Archive for August 12th, 2010



Thursday, 12 August, 2010

5 Cutting Edge Dance Companies

The Actor’s Church – 4-7 Aug 2010- 19:30

The stage is empty except for a silver metal stand.  It is disguised as a young man, dressed in a red striped shirt, black tie, black suit jacket, casual black trousers and white baseball trainers.  His hands are tucked nonchalantly in his pockets and he has a microphone for a head.  The red light is on.  He is waiting and watching.  Classical music plays all around to set the scene.  A voice comes over the tannoy to introduce the first of five dance companies to perform this evening.

First is Big Beef Dance Theatre’s ‘gaME + YOU’.  Four performers, Chandelle Allen, Ruth Bruce, Holly Grayling and Lottie Selwyn, come onto the stage.  They are all wearing bomber jackets, chequered shirts and shorts or trousers.  They stand in a line and each pick up an envelope saying ‘Objective’ on them.  There is a game inside which they explain and then play.  Three more games follow which are opened, explained and then played.

For something, which is supposed to be about games, it is not particularly playful or interesting.  The performers run around the stage doing various actions, which are meant to be comical, but seem forced and disjointed.  The games quickly get predictable as each is opened and explained.  False moustaches are used to signify men in the game.  They steal remote controls from behind one another, they undress throughout until they end up in strap tops and short shorts and attack the microphone man at the end.  This is the highlight of the performance as it is a bit of a game to guess what next they will pull from his pockets.

It is a shame that the model was not utilised more significantly in this performance.  The undressing of the performers was unnecessary.  The performance did not flow together well or seem to have a point.   The concept of the performance was good and Marc Dodi and the performers’ ideas have potential. It unfortunately did not come together as a whole.

Following this is Tempered Body Dance Company with ‘Body of Work’.  The performance tells the story of anxieties around body image.  Three dancers, enter the stage dressed in cream strap tops and shorts.  They hold a balance where two hold the third in the air in a closed and protective manner.  Haunting piano music plays.  The dance that follows is a touching and poignant look at the body and the physical and mental restrictions society puts on it.

Maddy Wynne-Jones’ choreography is delicate and detailed.  The story unfolds like a good book.  The dancers have one moment where they form a triangle and the lead dancer completes the moves a few seconds ahead of the other two and it flows like water.  The delay is faultless.  In another moment they each form a shape like birds in flight, about to take off and explore their new freedom.

The music by Adam Janota Bzowski/Halogen from Maternity Media complements the performance and enhances the story.  A deep pulsating telephone sound in the music at one point echoes that of a heart beating in the lifeless skinny models being portrayed on stage.  The heart is fighting to work while they fight to give up and wither away to nothing.  Another piece of up-tempo music is like painful memories and trying to find the solution beyond them.

Cat Ben Abbes, Rebecca Goor and Claudia Palazzo dance expertly.  They all portray the story well and capture the beauty of the body despite the conception of its many faults.  Working together like organs of the body they take the stage and make it their own individually and as a group.  A bandage is used adeptly throughout to display the pain and entrapment against the escape from the confines of this and a new direction and way of thinking.  They all dance with poise and elegance.  Their grace is admirable.  Their facial expressions tell the story.  It is fascinating to watch.  Their characters take us on a journey.  They explore their new selves.  They are scared, looking over the edge into the unknown but are ready to take a leap of faith.

Antique Dances are next with ‘Ternion’, which means ‘set of three’.  Three dancers, two women and one man, enter wearing similar black leotards and have silver make-up on their faces.  It has a futuristic air about it.  The anticipation is exciting.

What follows is a tantalising and captivating performance from start to finish.  Holly Noble’s choreography is daring.  The dancers have a good formation at all times.  They dance in coordination and complete impressive movements on various levels, which adds a further dimension to the piece.  Holly Noble challenges the dancers and challenges the perception of where each dancer is seen to fit and the role they will play.  A story unfolds of a fight for power.  A tug of war ensues and the balance constantly shifts until the dancers are the successors.  They are triumphant but exhausted.

The dancers, Samantha Lewis, Brett Murray and Sarah Davidson, start in a line, one in the middle and the others at either end.  They are pushed hard throughout the performance.  They skilfully create various shapes and movements in quick succession and in slow motion at times.  All the dancers produce commendable performances however, Brett Murray has an extra appeal about him.  His poise and actions are tight and sharp when necessary.  They are gentle and elegant the rest of the time.  Coupled with his facial expressions, he draws a lot of the focus.

The music by Chris Clark narrates the story impeccably.  The music is static and funky.  It is like a record getting stuck in a record player, but on purpose and with the coolness and acceptance of the crowd at an exclusive party.  The music seems to take on a life of its’ own.  It becomes the voice and attacks the characters in the story as they fight back in the struggle to see who will prevail.  The music dissolves at the end to reflect the accomplishment of the characters as the ‘voice’ diminishes and finally dies.  Its light has gone out and they can breathe once again without fear.

After the interval, Collisions Dance Company perform ‘Inertia’.  Three women in blue t-shirts and black shorts walk onto the stage.  It is a story about confinement and the struggle against this.  The characters are stuck in a state of inertia and desire movement and change.  David Beer’s choreography tells a compelling tale.  They are birds in flight sharing their misery in a perfect formation.  They sway from side to side to find a balance and see how far they can take it.  Careless freedom makes way for happier times after a fraught period of torment.  The action becomes more focused as the story progresses.  They work as a unit supporting each other with more focused movements.  There is a definite purpose for them.  There are cascading actions like a flowing river.  There is hostility as the two sides collide and battle.  They are puppets trying to break free from their strings.

Ludovico Einaudi’s music depicts the torment well.  It starts hopeful yet sad.   Violins come in later and the pace gets faster like the characters are running for their lives.  It darkens and there is an ominous tone as something threatens the current carefree nature of the characters.  Hopeful piano music mirrors the growth of the characters like flowers in bloom.  They are renewed but cautious.  The music magnifies the intensity of the action and mirrors the dancer’s moves artfully.

The dancers, Cara Hopkins, Elizabeth Peck and Soleil Webster are engaging and delightful to watch.  There is a moment when the dancers are on the floor and one undulates her body like a pained heart beat.  It is simple and graceful.  Another stunning moment occurs when one walks past the others. They move as if touched by the breeze.  They dance in unison, in cascades and spin free of their captor.  Their actions intensify as they near the ultimate fight.  They are steadfast then collapse, up and down again.  It gets faster and harder until they collapse in prostrate triumph.  All is peaceful.  The perfect conclusion to a beautiful performance.

Last to perform are Joss Arnott Dance with ‘threshold’.  Seven women enter.  The costumes by Susan Kulkarni have the women looking like futuristic soldiers or tribes people.  They wear opaque black tops and shiny blue shorts.  It is an impressive start and fitting for the story.

The dancers, Jessica Hall, Grace Hann, Stephanie Hodgson, Samantha Lewis, Lisa Rowley, Rosanna Wallis and Peri Jasmine Warren, all have their backs facing outwards while one dances.  Techno music, by Laura Harrison and Ronen Kozokaro, plays as the dancers complete strong, powerful movements like an army marching and gearing up for war.  They are in attack mode.  They seem to be showing their prowess and worth.  Drums play and intensify then fade.

A disruptive noise, like electrical interference and trying to find a signal, plays all around.  It is akin to an unknown race speaking an unknown language.  We are privy to a conversation that we should not be hearing.  It is secret and dangerous.  Two members of the force battle one another in a display of ability.  They are on par however.

More conversation continues as there are further noises of electrical interference.  One person creates a message in dance and three more crawl in and create a counter message like a response to it with a few changes.  The music changes back to soldiers marching and they struggle within themselves.  A burst of music breaks out and the soldiers disperse to either side.  Instructions are danced out and each responds to confirm their understanding.  One leaves as another enters, going over the plan of action.  The atmosphere builds and there is an urgency to their movements.  The music continues to build. The dancers energy is now at an all time high and it is thrilling to watch.  The energy has been building throughout and it is a testament to the skill of the dancers to be able to keep up this level of activity throughout.

The final moments see them once again with their backs facing outwards.  They are still keeping something hidden and have not revealed all their strategies.  All will be revealed it seems.  The ultimate cliff hanger.  A consummate piece of work.

The whole evening is a commendable display of skill in choreography, music and dance.  The body is pushed to various limits.  Art is painted on the stage and the beauty of what the body can do is revealed.  It is an enjoyable evening showing a laudable showcase of talent.  Thoroughly recommended.

Cast Credits:

Big Beef Dance Theatre: Chandelle Allen – performer.  Ruth Bruce – performer.  Holly Grayling – performer. Lottie Selwyn.

Tempered Body Dance Company: Cat Ben Abbes – dancer.  Rebecca Goor – dancer.  Claudia Palazzo – dancer.

Antique Dances: Sarah Davidson – dancer.  Samantha Lewis – dancer.  Brett Murray – dancer.

Collisions Dance Company: Cara Hopkins – dancer.  Elizabeth Peck – dancer.  Soleil Webster – dancer.

Joss Arnott Dance: Jessica Hall – dancer.  Grace Hann – dancer.  Stephanie Hodgson – dancer.  Samantha Lewis – dancer.  Lisa Rowley – dancer.  Rosanna Wallis – dancer.  Peri Jasmine Warren – dancer.

Company Credits:

Big Beef Dance Theatre: Conceived by – Marc Dodi, Chandelle Allen,  Ruth Bruce,    Holly Grayling,  Lottie Selwyn.  Music – B*Witched,  Chuck Berry,  Yul Brenner and Deborah Kerr,  Vanessa  Carlton,  Billy Ray Cyrus,  Michael and Janet Jackson,  Olivia Newton John and John Travolta,  Kenny Rogers,  The Contours,  Paul Weller.

Tempered Body Dance Company: Choreographer – Maddy Wynne-Jones.  Composer – Adam Janota Bzowski/Halogen, Maternity Media  Additional tracks – Gentle Piece, Piano Works 2008 Craig Armstrong.  Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, 1962 Ben E King., written by Carol King and Gerry Goffin.

Antique Dances: Choreographer – Holly Noble.  Music – Chris Clark.

Collisions Dance Company: Choreographer – David Beer.  Music – Ludovico Einaudi.

Joss Arnott Dance: Music – Laura Harrison,  Ronen Kokokaro.  Costume – Susan Kulkarni.

© Chantal Pierre-Packer


The Kenmure Triathlon

Thursday, 12 August, 2010

Becoming an iron man

I have always considered myself a non-team player in sporting terms. I have always preferred more solitary activities such as runs or cycles while singing along to my favourite tunes on my i-pod, or a relaxing swim in the sea or one of London’s many Lidos. Perhaps it is the lack of commitment that attracted me. No weekly training at the mercy of the British weather. No weekend morning matches wrecking the enjoyment of precious weekend nights. A plan to go for a jog or a cycle can be made and broken at the last minute. Swims are only slightly more restricted due to timing restrictions and the dreaded prospect of being stuck in a lane with one swimmer up your behind and another kicking you in the face during “rush-hour”.

However there have been times when I have been slightly envious of the comradery and social side of team sports. With that minor envy in mind, I have been intrigued by the triathlon phenomenon that seems to be gripping so many of my peers in recent years. In the past I had viewed triathlons as an activity only for the strongest, fittest and, no offence meant, butchest sector of society. And yet this summer in particular I have listened to many a friend discuss their upcoming or just completed triathlon over a few glasses of wine/beer/shots. This got me thinking; if they could do it, surely so could I.

Then one sunny early summer afternoon, during a boozy picnic in Victoria Park, a friend began rallying the troops to join him back in his hometown, Kenmare, County Kerry in Ireland, to partake in a triathlon. It was to be held a whole 3 months away – so much time to train! We all agreed to participate, and went on to celebrate our last night of guilt-free revelry into the early hours of that morning.

The wonderful weather this summer was a mixed blessing. Great for outdoor training, running in parks, swimming in the open air and cycling through the countryside, with no fear of rain. Sunshine and long, balmy evenings are also great for sitting outside pubs, or at BBQ’s or at picnics, or at festivals, all of which require a glass of sparkling wine or a cold beer. It was hard to reconcile the two focuses of the summer. But knowing that many of the people who were sharing the round of drinks would also be sharing the pain of the 7th of August somehow made it all OK. Adrenalin on the day would have a lot to make up for.

Arriving in Kenmare the night before the big event was all anticipation. Sitting around the dinner table eating a fabulous meal of fresh prawns and fried fish, with not a glass of wine in sight, a friend likened the feeling to the night before a wedding. We were a group of around 20 people, male and female, and all Irish and English.  And we weren’t supposed to drink! The drive from the airport along a portion of the famous Ring of Kerry proved our host right in his promises of spectacular scenery during the cycle and run. People shuffled from side to side of the bus, as it trundled along the country roads in accordance with which offered the best views for that particular bend. Heavy white and grey clouds rolled across an equally white and grey backdrop. Every now and then a rebel ray of sunlight would burst through, momentarily bringing to life the multitudinous shades of green. From illuminated glowing yellow-green grass, to the shadowy forest-green of the tree-covered hills, and every shade on the spectrum in between.

Most importantly, sun was forecast for the following day. The cyclists and runners were thrilled. I was a swimmer. I had opted out of attempting all three sections alone two weeks previously when I grabbed an opportunity to join a relay team. The lack of training and the discovery that a full triathlon involved Olympic distances caused the last minute change of heart.

The event began at 2pm on the Saturday and the swimmers were first up. Three yellow buoys in the relatively calm sea bay marked the 1.5 kilometre distance that we were to cover. I wasn’t worried. I had done 30 lengths in the London Fields lido a few times.

We suited up into our wetsuits and rubber swimming hats. We posed for photographs, all of which I hope to delete very soon. We listened to the rules and safety regulations. We eased into the water to acclimatise. Out of nowhere I overheard someone say we had 20 seconds left.  I began frantically searching for an empty patch of sea amongst the 250 other swimmers. The horn sounded and the thrashing and jostling began. Flying water was everywhere. A foot dislodged my goggles and I witnessed my friend’s head disappear under a body as one swimmer front-crawled over her. The characteristic Irish politeness had clearly been left at the shore. I found a position at the outer edge of the splashing mass of black suited bodies and tried to find a rhythm. It came eventually. Stroke, breathe, stroke, breathe. I interrupted that repetition every 20 or so strokes in order to reposition my slowly advancing body in line with the yellow buoy. The fastest swimmer completed the circuit in 18 minutes, the slowest in approximately 45. Coming in at 35 minutes I was by no means among the quickest, but since my only aim was to not be last I was happy. My wonderfully supportive and equally uncompetitive team-mates were full of praise as I passed them the timer along with responsibility to finish.

From then on it was all cool cider and relaxed cheering. The sun was kind enough to come out and the rain, polite enough to stay away. All accounts confirmed that the scenery was as picturesque as promised. The whole town seemed to be out cheering from the gates of their houses. There were choruses of “Good girl, you’re a fine girl, good woman yourself” from small gatherings of local men. Children would run alongside offering bottles of water and high energy snacks. The applause was equally enthusiastic for the winner, coming in at a remarkable 2 hours and 1 minute, and the final runner arriving red-faced and weak almost 2 hours later.

There was a poor turn out to the prize-giving for the sole reason that people only had a short time to get showered and ready for some well-earned celebrating that night. Accounts of avoiding jelly fish in the sea, and fighting jelly legs during the transition from bike to running accompanied the first few rounds of drinks. After a few more rounds, and having moved from the house party to the bars, dancing and sing-songs replaced talking. More bars, more dancing, more singing and the requisite portion of cheesy fries in the chipper preceded a 5am dive into bed. The muscle stiffness of the next day was attributed to the exertions of the sporting activity, although in all honesty the dancing activity was probably equally to blame.

The endorphins, the comradery of training (and consolations for shortcomings in that regard) and the fun during and after the event, are only some reasons to start planning the next one. A bit of research has discovered that the distances range from sprint triathlons, full triathlons (such as Kenmare), iron man, and for the truly masochistic, double iron man. Having been part of a relay team I reckon the sprint should be manageable. And sure the sky is the limit from there! Addictive? Definitely!

For more information on Triathlon events and clubs in the U.K. see

Leanne O’Loughlin was the triathlete


Burton, by Gwynne Edwards

Thursday, 12 August, 2010

The Voice from the Valleys

Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BX

7pm, 4th – 7th August & 11th – 14th August 2010 (1.15)

The small dark basement with cushioned wooden seats for an audience of about 40 provides a perfectly intimate setting for this one man show.

Rhodri Miles as Burton

The set is simple. There is a table holding a crystal decanter full of clear liquid. There is an ice bucket and water-spritzer. The one-man bar is completed when Rhodri Miles as Burton enters the little room, with a crystal tumbler in hand.

The monologue takes place on the date of Burton’s 46th birthday at his house in Switzerland. He is in day three of a bout of depression. He is on medication for various medical issues and is defying his physicians every time he takes a sip from his glass. With this background of ‘Celtic gloom’ there is a lot of scope for dark humour, which certainly features in abundance throughout the performance.

Rhodri Miles wears black trousers and a black turtle neck over an open cream cardigan. A silver chain hanging over his sweater is the only hint at luxury in his attire. However the clothes and jewellery soon fade quietly into the background. The eye is drawn immediately to the furrowed brow and squinty-eyed expression of Rhodri Miles’ face, as his character fixes himself the first of many drinks and, illuminated by a soft spot light, begins casually chatting about his life, as though with an invisible guest.

Burton’s manner of speech is frank and open. The topics begin with his humble upbringing in working class Wales. He casually discusses his life since childhood, his advancement to the stage with the help of his mentor, Philip Burton, whose name he eventually took, his famous acquaintances, his marriages and his many public affairs. Burton makes no apologies for the many criticisms which have been loaded on him by the press (“I sleep with all my leading ladies…”). And yet he is honest about his regrets, and his self-loathing for having let down some of the most important people in his life, his brother, his friend Dylan Thomas, his first wife and daughter.

Gwynne Edwards’ script is multi-layered. Burton’s words are honest, and yet the audience is acutely aware of much which is unspoken also. Burton has a jaded air; he dismisses the 33 movies he has under his belt along with the entire movie industry. He is bored with Hamlet, which he describes as no more than a collection of quotations, reiterated ad nauseam for 400 years. He detests the press and their obsession with his life, conquests, and marriage. He is scathing of his present wife, Elizabeth Taylor, who is ill in another part of the same house from which he is entertaining his invisible guest. He addresses some of his flaws, including his alcoholism (he refers to the contents of his glass saying ‘it’s a waste of the best of us’). There is however an underlying sense of his conceited, self-centred nature. And a knowledge that fame cannot have simply fallen at his feet, as it did for many of the women he was associated with, or so he implies. Burton describes a lifetime of fatigue with the industry within which he built his career, however the possibility that this outlook has developed in his latter years is left open for consideration.

Rhodri Miles’ performance as Richard Burton comes naturally. Throughout the 75 minute performance he moves easily around the small stage. For large portions of time he sits pensively vocalising his reminiscences. He keeps his drinks topped up. His movements are barely perceptible as the eye remains fixed on his expressive face. In this manner one could be surprised to note that the contents of the decanter are running low, while at the same time Burton’s movements and speech are becoming looser. By the end of the show the decanter is empty and Burton is unashamedly drunk. Burton’s defiant self-assurance regains control over the regretful tone of some of his musings with his final roar: ‘to hell with the physicians, I may outlive them all’.

Cast:  Rhodri Miles – Richard Burton

Company credits:  Writer – Gwynne Edwards.  Director – Hugh Thomas. Technical operator – Tom McLeod

(c) Leanne O’Loughlin

Reviewed at the Leicester Square Theatre, 11th August 2010


The Aspidistras

Thursday, 12 August, 2010

Edited review can now be read here:

The Aspidistras - Gerardine Coyne and Maria Hodson



Thursday, 12 August, 2010

A feast of festival poetry

The Camden Eye – 6th – 9th Aug 2010 – 19:30 (4:00 inc. interval)

The rrrants ‘Ranting Festival’ at the Camden Eye was part of Bardaid 2010, a scheme to raise money to provide non-curriculum, independent poetry books for students and teachers. Compere Paul Eccentric introduced the evening by enthusiastically declaring their location as right in the heart of Camden which was itself an example of living, breathing poetry.

First up was Sheriff Will Barrow whose work offered a vivacious assessment of knife crime, poetry and London life.

The gorgeous, hushed tones of Fatima Al Matar were a welcome contrast; seeming at first to be quiet and contained she soon captured the audience’s attention with her haunting, lyrical words. The enigmatic Alan Wolfson was a breath of fresh air as he spun tales of festival madness with an impromptu accompaniment from rrrant’s Ian Newman on double bass for his final piece ‘Guns in the World’.

The vivacious pace of the very Scottish Alain English was a treat for the ears and his poem ‘I like strong women but I can’t stand bitches’
proved a real crowd pleaser. The gentle visual metaphors of Fay Roberts showed incredible emotional intelligence whilst displaying a quiet charm.

Introduced as a ‘Rhythmic Casanova’ Poeterry didn’t disappoint; he spoke about lust, made us laugh and by the end even had everyone joining in. Straight–talking Super Pennie performed with both humility and bravery which engaged the audience in each and every word.

The biting social commentary unleashed by Captain of the Rant clearly came straight from the heart and was tasty food for thought. Mat Lloyd came booming on stage carrying a retro stereo and his confident, honest performance style certainly packed an emotional punch.

Quirky Alex Iamb spoke of the thrill of performing and the pain of rejection and rather magnificently exposed the contradiction of confidence in an artist. The Antipoet performed enigmatic beat poetry before finally vocal pugilist David J took to the stage. His oral dexterity was immense as he masterfully weaved words and sounds into captivating anecdotes, riffs and stories.

The eclectic line up was a dazzling display of poetry, comedy and music – sometimes all in the same moment. There’s no doubt rrrants went the extra mile to make the audience feel both involved and inspired. Also, rather than just providing a fringe festival tasting menu they laid on a full banquet of spoken word talent. It’s admirable that a fringe show provided so many acts in the line up and even more so that it was all in aid of a good cause.

Credits: (alpha order): Performers – Alain English, Alan Wolfson, Alex Iamb, Captain of the Rant, David J, Fatima Al Matar, Fay Roberts, Mat Lloyd, Poeterry, Sheriff Will Barrow, Super Pennie, The Antipoet.
Compere – Paul Eccentric.

(c) Hannah Rodger

Reviewed Monday 9 August 10 / The Camden Eye


Scenes from the City

Thursday, 12 August, 2010

Words and Pictures

Scenes from the City is a collaboration of visual and written art.  Eight stories are told through the written word, illustrations and photographs.  Projected images, sound recordings and suspended snippets of words and sketches complete the multi-sensorial impact of the exhibition.

The works are displayed in a small windowless, dimly lit room.  The concrete floor is painted dark grey and the walls are painted with that textured lumpy-effect paint that was once popular.  The walls of the room are adorned with A3 unframed cards of printed words, simple glass framed sketches and similarly framed black and white photographs ranging in size from c 20cm x 27cm to c 36cm x 54cm.  There is a white wooden chair in the centre of the room.  There are three stacks of old televisions against three walls, one stack of 4, another with 3 and the last a single television resting on the floor.  The fourth wall supports a basic freestanding wooden structure (c 1.5m  x  0.5m  x  0.5m).  The empty space between the wooden beams is criss-crossed with nylon fishing wire used to suspend snippets from the illustrations and words which make up the exhibition.  Portions of illustrations are projected onto an alcove in one of the walls.  The characters depicted in the printed stories around the walls are given voices in a 25 minute radio recordings, set on repeat.

The stories delve in and out of relationships, conversations and seemingly random moments in the lives of ordinary people.  Each scene takes place in a public setting; public transport, a bench overlooking a council owned duck pond, in a supermarket, in a hospital. The characters featured are by all appearances as typical and ordinary as their surroundings; couples, both youthful and elderly, a tattooed youth with nowhere to go, an eccentric old lady, a suited business man and a nattering lady with an oversized handbag, an uncle visiting his nephew in the A&E.

Each story, like each sketch and photograph, can stand alone. Yet there are several interconnecting lines flowing through almost every piece in the collection. Characters make multiple appearances, demonstrating the different roles a person can play in the various relationships of their lives.  The grumpy old husband in one story reappears as the caring uncle in another.  Words and phrases uttered in one story are given an entirely different meaning in the next: ‘a cliché…but a true one’ are the words uttered by one character to describe playing Foucault in D minor to pigeons (‘Reading to the Pigeons’).  The same words are uttered by the female half of a young couple to describe a phrase she has heard repeated in pop songs (‘By the Duckpond’).  Imagery is repeated in the written word (pigeons feature in several of the stories; sponges, in their various forms, come up more than once) and in the visual artwork.  Repeated images are especially noticeable in the illustrations where frequently one large sketch will be broken down into two separate smaller close-up sketches of individual characters or features.  This method of presenting a complex, multi-layered illustration accompanied by two smaller close-up pictures of a character, or a set of eyes, has the effect of subtly leading the spectator through the interplay of ideas contained in the visual and written art.

The illustrations themselves are primarily simple pencil-type sketches in black on white paper.  The images are far from simple. The scenes are complex and surreal. The characters have a dream (or more aptly, nightmare)-like quality, many portraying cross breeds of humans and animals. The regularity of the settings for the stories is juxtaposed with the surreal quality of the sketches.  The relevance of the photography can be less evident at times.

The exhibition as a whole has the power to draw the spectator in, forcing them to forget ‘the world beyond the carriage’ (quotation from story: On the Train).  The subtle yet effective repetition and links between otherwise unconnected stories consumes the spectator’s attention, leaving them hungry to spot all of the threads.

Scenes from the City is at Nolias Gallery, 60 Great Suffolk Street, SE1 0BL. 5 – 10 August 2010.


Illustrator – Ben Lambert. Writer – Vicky Flood. Photography – Laura Scott. The Scenes from the City Radio Recordings – Adapted by Vicky Flood. Images – Ben Lambert. Directors – Alex Buckingham and Vicky Flood. Actor’s voices: Daniel Binham,  Alex Buckingham,  Louisa Coward,  Vicky Flood, Imogen Goodman, Steve King,  Anna Rap,  Miriam Scully,  Luke Surl,  Tom Ward. Adapted by Vicky Flood. Website:

(c) Leanne O’Loughlin